Undergraduate students present their report on human rights violation in Zimbabwe at the House of Lords

Posted on: 21 September 2023 by Dr Obert Hodzi in 2023 posts

Three students handing over report on human rights violation in Zimbabwe

On 13 September 2023, Dr Obert Hodzi and three undergraduate students presented a report on the repression and shrinking of space for civil society organisations in Zimbabwe at the House of Lords. The research leading to the report was funded through the Beacon Project grant. The three students, Phoebe Ashton, Emily Strudwick and Isra Mohammed, participated in interviewing leaders of civil society organisations in Zimbabwe.

Working with the Action for Southern Africa, a charity based in London, and political activist Makomborero Haruzivishe in compiling the report, the project demonstrated the effectiveness of student-civil society engagement in highlighting the human rights situations in Zimbabwe.

The report highlights concern to civil society, including denial of due process under the law, systematic attacks on civil society groups, and the intimidation of professionals to support President Mnangagwa’s regime in Zimbabwe.

Lord Jonny Oates commended the students for their commitment to researching and amplifying the voices of survivors of human rights violations in Zimbabwe. Lord Oates is the Co -Chair of the All-Party Parliamentary Group on Africa (APPG) and of the APPG on Zimbabwe.

Showing how the Zimbabwean civil society is under siege and in need of solidarity from movements worldwide,  the report provides seven recommendations from people working in the frontline of Zimbabwean civil society.

Action for Southern Africa believes the report will add a new perspective to discussions  between civil society in the UK and Zimbabwe, and provide a basis for urging the UK government to reconsider its policies regarding Zimbabwe to find ways forward in the months ahead.

Three students sit in the house of lords

Reflecting on their participation in the project:

Phoebe Ashton, 2023 said:

‘The opportunity to hear voices from the frontline of civil society in Zimbabwe has been enlightening for me as it has led to an increased understanding of the current state of human rights and the ways in which human rights are viewed in society. It has provided me with an insight into what day-to-day life is like in Zimbabwe, something that has been sadly neglected in the UK media despite its gravity and significance. Overall, this project has been a great experience and has hopefully led to the voices of Zimbabwe being heard.’ 

Emily Strudwick, 2023 said:

‘Hearing the first-hand testimonies in the interviews and researching accounts to evidence the report really brought home how current the situation is in Zimbabwe and how crucial the work of the COS is. Not only did it make me realise how oblivious I had been to the immense struggle of the Zimbabweans, but it made me appreciate the critical opportunity that this report has, to give the CSOs a platform to amplify their voices.’ 

The report, Voices from the frontline: Repression and shrinking space for civil society organisations in Zimbabwe is available on the Action for Southern Africa website.